Friday, May 22, 2020

The Audience Adventure - Day 30

Emma licked her lips, looking at her friend twirling happily in her purple dress in the middle of the shop. It looked like a scene from a child’s imagination; the princess in her dress dancing amongst the sparkling Christmas scene. Emma felt the unruly tears pricking at the back of her eyes yet again as her heart rate increased and a creeping heat raced across the skin of her chest and arms. It occurred to her that this noticeably increased proximity to tears was coming hand in hand with caring about the people around her. She’d always been proud of herself for not crying at all but now she was beginning to see that a lack of tears in her life had perhaps just indicated a lack of things she cared enough about?

The sight of Fiona in front of her - happy, excited and dangerously close to a precipice of disappointment was truly awful. Heartbreaking felt like an overblown word to use but as she watched and felt the physical pain behind her ribs it was the only word that felt applicable.

“It’s gorgeous.” She muttered through a cracking throat.

“I love it.” Fiona gushed, “I just feel perfect in it - you know? I feel so dainty and fun. I can’t wait to wear it. I’m going to go and take it off before I spill something on it and spoil it before I’ve even worn it.”

Fiona skipped down the stairs and Emma watched her go. She felt desolate: at once filled with a twitching energy but also block heavy. Fireflies encased in concrete. Emma stared at the door down to the staff room and pleaded with herself to get this right. Slowly, she dragged herself over to the glass shop door and shot the bolt, turning the sign round to indicate the shop’s closure. Then, she took a deep breath and headed down the stairs after Fiona.

“Are you decent?” She called into the staff room through the half open door.

“Almost, you ok?” Fiona’s voice was muffled. Emma hesitated another few seconds and then pushed the door open and took a seat on one of the little stools.

“Fi, I’ve just shut the shop for a second, I need to have a word.” Emma’s finger tips felt freezing - she hoped all the blood was rushing to her brain to help her construct this conversation. She wanted to savour every moment before she said what she had to say; knowing that these could be the last few moments of her friendship with Fiona if things went badly again.

“Are you alright Em? You look white as a sheet.” Fiona was pulling on her top and dragging a stool over to sit by Emma. She took one of Emma’s hands in her own. “What’s happened?”

Emma swallowed, and did her best to look Fiona full in the face. “I, um, I talked a little bit to Helen when we put the tree into her car.”

Fiona stiffened, “Right.”

“She told me, she said that after the boat day when she’d kicked Norman out, Norman had turned back up at the house asking her to take him back.” Emma paused, eyeing Fiona for any signs of reaction. Fiona’s back was tense and frozen but her face remained passive, Emma continued, “She wasn’t sure if you knew that he’d done that. She, um, she said she noticed the ring that you are wearing and, she said, she said Norman had offered it to her as a gift to try and persuade her to take him back. Fi, I’m so sorry - I don’t know if she’s telling the truth obviously, I don’t know - but, it seems like she’s trying to say he offered her the ring and then when she said no he took the same ring and tried to get back together with you.”

The silence in the staff room was crushing. It pressed into Emma’s ears causing a high whine. It smothered her chest and held her limbs in a tight squeeze. Fiona sat before her like a statue - that she had not dropped Emma’s hand was the only solace Emma could find in the entire scene.

Minutes passed and Emma sat, letting Fiona soak, waiting for a response. Eventually Fiona’s hand twitched and she retracted it from Emma’s. Emma felt fear shoot through her spine. Fiona was still, then she launched herself at Emma, flinging her arms around Emma and pressing her body into a desperate hug. Emma could feel Fiona sobbing against her and she wrapped her arms around her; holding her tight and letting her weep.

Fiona cried and cried - enormous body juddering sobs breaking over Emma like waves on a shore. Emma let her. She stroked Fiona’s hair and rubbed slow, long routes down her back. Eventually the energy and depth to Fiona’s crying began to abate and Emma let her lie against her in misery. She could feel the wetness from Fiona’s tears through her uniform. Silence settled again in the staff room - only the sound of gentle breathing and the occasional damp sniff breaking the peace.

“Are you ok?” Emma whispered, knowing the answer but needing to ask it anyway.

“Yeah,” Emma was surprised to hear a small laugh in Fiona’s answer, “I’m a very stupid woman, aren’t I?”

Emma squeezed her tighter again, “No, no you’re not stupid at all. You’re trusting and that’s different.”

“You don’t think there’s much chance of her lying, do you?” Fiona didn’t sound hopeful but Emma chewed the question over carefully anyway to make sure she believed her own answer.

“I don’t think so. I think if she was just out to hurt you or cause a fuss she’d have wanted more of a scene? She said she was leaving it up to me whether or not I told you. So, I think if she was trying to split you two up and make sure you were miserable, she’d have told you herself to make sure you knew? The spiteful thing to do would have been to shout at you in the shop when she saw the ring?”

Emma felt Fiona nodding against her and then she shifted back on her stool and began working the ring off her finger.

“What do you want to do?” Emma asked.

“Kill him?”

Emma laughed. “OK, I’m in. How?”

“So many different ways.” Said Fiona. Emma laughed again and stood up to stretch her aching back. “I feel so very, very stupid.” Fiona looked like she might cry again and Emma realised the fine line between Fiona’s humour and her breaking point.

“I understand,” Emma said carefully, “But, I want you to know you shouldn’t. You gave him a chance - that’s all. You hadn’t declared everything to be brilliant. You were seeing how things went. Well, they’ve went badly. You’d only be stupid if you knew this now and carried on with him.”

Fiona nodded and pulled her phone out of her pocket. She tapped at the screen and then held the phone up to her head. “Hello love, it’s me. Are you around today? Oh… oh that’s nice. I was just wondering - do you think you could pick me up from work today? I’ve got a splitting head ache and it would be nice not to get the bus. Is that ok? Oh amazing. Thank you darling. See you later.”

She hung up the phone. Emma stared at her. “Was that Norman?”

“It was. I’m going to lure him down here and then have it out with him. If only I had time to organise a frigging flash mob.” Fiona stood up, straightened her uniform and made her way back up the stairs to the sales floor. Emma watched her go in amazement. This was exciting.

There were barely twenty minutes of opening time left but each separate, painful minute dragged its heels before ticking to completion. Emma watched Fiona undulate between stiff-lipped strength to wobbling misery several times in those twenty minutes. She kept repeating various sentences on the subject of how stupid she felt and each time Emma leapt in to assure her that following your heart wasn’t stupid or some such supportive sentiment.

Watching Fiona and listening to the words coming out of her own mouth she felt her resolve growing to enjoy spending time time with Theo.

‘So what if it didn’t get off to the best start? So what if it’s a bit weird that I moved here after him? It’s not stupid of me to want to see where things go. I like him. He’s nice. Why not?’ She felt curiously uplifted.

It was finally time to close the shop and Emma waited with Fiona on the pavement out front. Norman would arrive any minute now and Emma was fizzing with anticipation at what to expect from Fiona. Fiona was cool as a cucumber. She stood mildly on the pavement watching people pass by and scanning the road for signs of Norman’s car. Eventually it pulled up.

Norman climbed out of the drivers side and made his way over to Fiona. Emma tensed.

“Hello you two, my what a sight for sore eyes. How is your head my darling?” Norman leaned in to kiss Fiona having done an over the top faux bow to Emma. Fiona stayed stock still, “Are you ok?” He asked, noticing the lack of reception from either of them.

“I’m not ok, no. I saw Helen today. She informed me that before you came to my door telling me how delighted you were to be rid of her, you first went to see her to see if she would take you back. She also told me that this ring -“ She held her hand up, waggling the ring in his face, “Was first offered to her. You then brought it round to mine and like a fucking idiot I lapped up every word you said and put it on my finger.”

Norman stood, gaping at her - jaw working but no words developing on his tongue. Fiona took a breath and continued, “You are a lying, cheating, slimy, money obsessed bastard Norman and I am done with you. We are over - I am worth more than you could ever offer me.”

Fiona pulled the ring off her finger and for a horrified moment Emma thought she was going to fling it into the street but Fiona was cannier than that. She marched towards Norman’s car and began scraping the diamond down the side leaving an enormous scratch in the paintwork. Norman shrieked.

“What are you doing you madwoman? Stop it!” He lurched towards Fiona but she whipped around and stared him into stillness.

“Don’t you come near me! Don’t you touch me! I don’t think I could ever upset you or hurt your feelings Norman because I’m not entirely sure you have any. But I can ruin something you like - you see this?” She gouged another huge scrape down the car, hatching across it great sweeping slashes. “This is how I feel inside. You feel this sadness about your precious car? That’s how you’ve made me feel about myself - maybe you can understand when you see it in money form. You’ve made me feel stupid. And worthless. Well I am done. I don’t want to hear from you again.”

She scribbled viciously at the car with the ring and then paced back to Emma.

“I want my ring back.” Norman shouted after her. Fiona spun on her heel to face him.

“You can absolutely get fucked on that count. It was a gift.” She dropped the ring into her pocket, took Emma’s arm and they marched off. It wasn’t the direction of the bus stop that either of them needed but Emma didn’t say anything. A few people had gathered on the street and were gaping at the drama, one was even filming. Emma made a mental note to do some googling later on and see if they became internet famous.

They walked for a few minutes until Emma felt like Fiona had had time to catch her breath and calm down. “Are you ok?” She asked her.

Fiona nodded - eyes shining. “I am!”

“I thought you were going to throw that ring at him!” Emma giggled, “Scratching the car was inspired!”

“Throw it? Are you joking? It’s worth a fortune. I will be selling this first chance I get. You and I are going out for a very expensive meal on Thursday.”


Choose a cocktail:

  1. Raspberry daiquiri
  2. Pornstar martini
  3. Espresso martini
  4. Old fashioned
  5. Pina Colada

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